Protests in New York over the death of George Floyd descended into chaos on Monday just hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a citywide curfew starting from 11 p.m until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
While bands of protesters could be seen marching peacefully through Manhattan and Brooklyn in what is now the fourth day of protests against police brutality, dozens of people were also arrested and hundreds of looters were seen breaking their way into downtown Manhattan businesses and emptying them of merchandise, ABC7NY reported.
Midtown New York saw fires being ignited by protesters and police cars being burned, while a group armed with sticks reportedly set fire to one business. Stores such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and Barnes and Noble were broken into and shattered glass covered the sidewalk.
The doors of Macy’s flagship Manhattan store were breached and police pulled two handcuffed men out and put them in a van, while people rushed into a Nike store and carried out armloads of clothing.
Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood also saw mobs of people looting luxury stores such as Rolex, Chanel, and Prada, as well as clothing and electronics stores.
During the SoHo looting, one man in his 20s was reportedly shot in the torso and leg at Spring and Crosby streets just after 12:30 a.m by one of four men following a dispute. The victim was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he was in stable condition and no arrests have been made.
Video footage shared on Twitter shows one NYPD police officer in the Bronx being attacked by a group of protesters who tackle him to the ground and hit him with a large object.
Another video shows two officers arresting a man in what appears to be a tech store after it was vandalized by looters, many of whom continue to watch the arrest take place from outside the store, while shattered glass can be seen on the pavement.
One NYPD officer explained the scenes as a “disaster” and a “total war zone,” with protesters “everywhere, beating up cops,” who were overrun by the situation. The officer said law enforcement desperately needed the National Guard.
On Monday, President Donald Trump vowed to deploy the U.S. military in order to quell the protests if state officials could not contain them, noting that the “highest duty as president is to defend our great country and the American people.”
“All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain,” Trump said at a press conference form the Rose Garden.
“But we cannot allow the righteous cries and peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob. The biggest victims of the rioting are peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities, and as their president, I will fight to keep them safe. I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”
Trump noted that in recent days, the United States has been “gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others,” and that “innocent people have been savagely beaten,” while “small-business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed.”
“New York’s Finest have been hit in the face with bricks. Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes,” he told reporters. “A police precinct station has been overrun. Here in the nation’s capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African American enforcement hero, was shot and killed.”
Trump noted that these are “not acts of peaceful protest,” but “acts of domestic terror,” and “the destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God,” and said he will be taking immediate action to “stop the violence and restore security and safety in America.”
“Today, I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled,” he said, adding that, “If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
Police said approximately 250 people were arrested on Monday night, while six officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and roughly a dozen police vehicles were damaged.
Protests continue to rage on in dozens of cities around the nation, including Minneapolis, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, and Louisville, with occasional looting, arson, and vandalizing.
According to a count compiled by The Associated Press, at least 4,400 people have been arrested nationwide.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.